Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
What rewards do you seek? External, internal or both?
You get the reward you seek. The reward you believe in.
It starts with the scorecards you keep and monitor – internal or external.
External rewards are short term, energy consuming and based on an external scorecard. This is what I am.
Internal rewards are long term, self-sustaining and based on an internal scorecard. This is who I am.
You can also have both, either starting with an external scorecard and gaining some internal rewards, or starting with an internal scorecard and gaining some external rewards.
When you get internal rewards from an external scorecard, you try to use a lot of energy to support a self-sustaining system, ultimately destroying it.
When you get external rewards from an internal scorecard, you starve an energy demanding system, ultimately shrinking it.
The passage shows the conflict between our desires and our deeds.
We desire God’s reward (internal reward), but court the world’s reward (external reward). Therein lies the root of unhappiness.